Jus-Ed’s 30 years of soulful house

21.10.10, Words by: Zara Wladawsky

He’s been making music since the ‘80s. Now making the shift into the mainstream – playing the Fabric’s main room this Saturday no less, a taster mix for which you can listen to hear – we find Jus-Ed sticking true to his Underground Quality label.

Most people hear ‘deep house’ and think immediately of Detroit and Berlin. But there’s a special variation on this coming out of the New York City area too. And it can all be traced to Jus-Ed and his record label Underground Quality. It’s a brand of house music often a bit slower, less polished, and more organic, with an emphasis on simple, heartfelt arrangements and vocals. Jus-Ed and Underground Quality’s sound has been big on the underground dance scene for the last couple of years, but now the larger electronic music community is beginning to take notice.

Jus-Ed, full name Edward McKeithen, started out in music at the tender age of six playing drums alongside his grandparents in a touring jazz band. His DJ career kicked off in the early ‘80s, spinning in New York City and his native state of Connecticut. The darker side of the DJ lifestyle took hold shortly after, culminating in Ed “retiring in 1985”. In 1999 he came out of prison and began rebuilding his life. By 2001 he was back on the scene, impressing each time he stepped up to the decks.

One guy who took notice was Vic Money, a DJ on NYC’s well-known 98.7 Kiss FM, who brought along Jus-Ed for his Lower East Side residency. The pair went on to start releasing music under his new label, Underground Quality, created out of a desire to reshape a scene that had gone stale. Underground Quality also started hosting parties at the Brooklyn record shop, Halycon, where Jus-Ed met a few friends who would soon be brought onto his new label as artists. After years of consistently good releases and lots of hard work, the electronic music world started taking notice as a few key people, Omar-S among them, started talking up Jus-Ed’s and Underground Quality’s output.

A full-length album from Jus-Ed was released last year, with first single I’m Coming recently hitting record shops backed by superb remixes from Underground Quality artists Levon Vincent and Aybee. There’s been such an increase in demand for tracks off the label that they’ve recently made the step from being a vinyl only set up, to selling their full catalogue digitally on Juno Download.

Jus-Ed doesn’t have time to tour often, being a family man now, with a wife – fellow longtime DJ & musician Jenifa Mayanja – and a full-time job as a landscaper back in Connecticut. However, he’s been playing steadily higher profile gigs, including a takeover of Berlin’s Tape Club, and two stellar sets at dance festival Freerotation.

This weekend will see him playing from 11pm to 1am in Fabric’s Room 1, following a recent residency in Room 3. Expect to hear decades of life, love, and soul translated into a deep two-hour DJ set. Listen to taster mix on this page, and check out some off the wall words from the man himself via email:

How would you describe the mix?

No theme really this is a promo mix so I’m promoting my label/artists/music. I need money and I’m not ready to panhandly yet…. lol.

How’s life and what’s coming up for you?

Good … new releases UQ-033/UQ-032/UQ-030 CHECK IT OUT: http://www.undergroundquality.com/store.htm

Tell us a bit about Connecticut and what the scene is like there?

AH your readers, if they read… means they are educated … ie Boston Tea Party!? They know the history of Connecticut and the whole East Coast lol. What they might not know is that there is a lot of new deep house producers putting out top notch music. Scene… there is none really. Bars close too early. Most people go

to New York. It’s sad.

What’s your regular party in NYC, Clubhouse, like?

Party is going well just can’t find a permanent venue. Anthony (Parasole) and I are the best at what we do … there is no other party like it for vibe/music. You’ll know if you’ve been there 😉

What are you looking forward to the most during this trip to the UK?

I’m supposed to say playing, but really a massage ….. hahahaha. No I’m really excited that I’ve earned a semi-regular spot at Fabric. This is a huge step for a club to take risks like this in having an underground kat like myself play and perform in their venue. Richard and Judy, the “music directors,” believed in me and my music since the first time I played there. Now I have the confidence in my skills as a DEEJAY and performer, and I take care of this with everything I have. I also encourage and politely enforce that the rest of my UQ crew do the same. It’s about the people who pay to come see me, and it’s about the clubs that pay me to play … it’s not about me.

To the readers ….. come on and get there early! I’ll be the guy with dreads and funky t-shirt saying DJ JUS-ED Live at Fabric … I’ll have CDs for sale and conversation. Gotta keep it fresh … DUMMY!! Peace, Ed Jus-ED that is…